The Toronto Raptors’ woes this season stemmed partially from a very bad bench. The lack of skill and cohesion from names like Precious Achiuwa and Chris Boucher led to Nick Nurse leaning on his starters for heavy minutes. That decision eventually cost Nurse his job.
Masai Ujiri did not hold back his frustrations with the team this season, saying that the 2023 season was not fun for him to watch. Part of the season Ujiri and Nurse didn’t see eye to eye was the idea that Ujiri wanted to see his bench get more run, while Nurse leaned on the starters.
If Boucher had his druthers, he wouldn’t have leaned on Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet for 40 minutes in regular season games in the winter. In a podcast with Yahoo Sports, Boucher, who signed a three-year contract with the Raptors in the offseason, thought that his collective unit was not utilized properly.
“I feel like, to be honest with you, if you were to get the chance to watch practice and, you know, the training camp that we had this year, everybody came and would like a difference to their game,” Boucher said. ” During the season, I feel like not everybody got those chances. And obviously, that takes out different players, different places.”
Chris Boucher wanted the Toronto Raptors to use the bench more.
Boucher averaged 9.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game this season, which is almost a carbon copy of what he managed to pull off during the 2021-22 season. That lack of progression might be one of the reasons Nurse was so stingy with giving out minutes to his backups.
Achiuwa’s offensive improvements from the 2021-22 campaign didn’t translate over to his second season with the Raptors, Boucher flatlined, and both Malachi Flynn and Dalano Banton failed to seize the opportunity to grab the backup point guard job. No wonder Nurse had to grind VanVleet and Siakam into dust.
To give Nurse a break here, he really was stuck in between a rock and a hard place. No one wants to play their starters that much in the regular season, but they were the only players who were scoring consistently. Why would he take his best players off the floor to let Boucher have an extra run?
With the No. 13 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft likely to be used on a bench player that can stabilize the unit and Otto Porter Jr. returning to the team following his injury woes, the arrow might be pointing up for this unit.